Amazing how they can talk for so long about the rise and fall of the American empire with only passing reference (Tom) to energy, the primary driver of the entire process. And even Tom, God bless him – the most clear-eyed member of the group – inadvertantly falls back occasionally into that Old Time Faith in Progress. Note his assertion that we need to rebuild our infrastucture. And why exactly? So we can carry on with our happy motoring in our air conditioned cars while the planet bakes to a crisp?
As a Canadian, my perspective on this conversation is slightly different than Steve’s but nevertheless relates to it.
The structure of the discussion was around that binary opposition of Hard-power/Soft-power, and that is a false binary, for those two kinds of power are interdependent. American soft power is backed up by its hard power, and when the former fails to move other cultures in the direction which the US would like them to move, the US moves in with the latter. That point was not sufficiently addressed in this conversation.
Secondly — and this relates to my first point — I was disappointed that Cynthia Enloe was somewhat marginalized in the conversation. She knows more about American militarism than all three of the other participants put together, and her research has in many ways been focused on deconstructing that false Hard/Soft binary.
Third, I think that the issue of the crumbling infrastructure of the US, including the contrast between its prestigious Ivy League universities and the rest of the American education system, which is a complete shambles, should have been addressed by the panel — especially given that one of the film clips set the stage so beautifully for that particular theme.
Neither the American bald eagle nor Mickey Mouse is going to enjoy influence in the world if Americans don’t see to their domestic issues. The sorry state of the American public sphere is not a recent thing. I remember how, during the Cold War, several American voices articulated the adverse impact of military spending on the increasingly impoverished public sphere; how those voices went unheard; and how many of those same voices welcomed the end of the Cold War because now America would have much more money finally to invest in American people and their communities, including the infrastructure. Well, as we all know, those investments did not in fact happen. Indeed, as Tom pointed out, American military expenditure has almost doubled since the fall of the Soviet Union.
As a Canadian I worry most about this, because we have a political class determined to follow Washington anywhere it chooses to go, including to hell. For example, we now have a government determined to replicate the Law and Order American state, complete with laws that would give us more prisoners and require us to cut back on universal medicare and education so that we can build more prisons. And that is only one of the projects in our attempt to build an American style state.
People complain about Canada as a kind of rogue state in terms of its position vis-a-vis climate change. Those complainers do not realize that the oil sands belong primarily to the United States. Alberta developed that project with American investment as its primary goal, and Alberta has succeeded in spades. When Perry says that “every barrel of oil extracted from the tar sands is one barrel of oil the US does not have to import from foreigners,” he is precisely correct. For the tar sands are not owned by those foreigners called Canadians.
Indeed, the tar sands are the 800-pound gorilla that sits at the centre of the future of the American Empire. For tar sands extraction constitutes the future of global energy. It’s that conversation I would look to this Al Jazeera program called “Empire” to address in a future episode.
Just as i warned but no one was listening and all my dreams are revealing themselves..
“NORTH KOREA ASKS AMERICA TO LEAVE THE KOREAN PENISULAR” …YES PLEASE
AMERICA please take your Drones Home for they all can be hacked now ! look out this world is turning againgst you and your buddy Is Ra Al or is that Isis Ra Bael yip i got it right!! 🙂
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